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Academic Coaches for DL Courses

 To support the continued development and delivery of distance learning (DL) courses, funding is available annually to each college for, among other things, academic coaches to be used in DL courses. Programs are encouraged to use coaches in courses in which they can have a positive impact on access and student learning.


 Academic Coaches work under the direction of the instructor of record and provide essential support to the instructor. Coaches are typically the students' initial and primary contact for the course and provide a variety of services to the support the students and the instructor. The typical coach:

  •  grades assignments based on faculty direction,
  •  leads and manages discussion threads under faculty direction,
  •  manages student support issues and course questions, and
  •  serves as the main communicator with students according to faculty direction and serves as a mentor and coach for students.

 What does an Academic Coach Do?

Suggested Roles of the Academic Coach Handout

 Coach pay is at the discretion of the department and multiple coaches can be used in large enrollment courses.  


Academic Coaches can be existing, qualified students, but can also be individuals from outside the university including former students. In addition, UNF has partnered with Instructional Connections to provide Academic Coaches for online programs. Instructional Connections will find qualified individuals (based on qualifications the program sets such as minimum degrees, years of experience in the field, licensure, etc.) and then the department can select from the candidates provided. If a department is interested in this service, the department chair can contact Patrice Kapcio.


Training for Academic Coaches

Academic Coaches should complete CIRT's Canvas Orientation for Academic Coaches training course. The course is designed to help coaches learn to navigate and become familiar with the most-used tools in Canvas from the instructor perspective. The course offers a basic overview of the LMS with best practices for communication and facilitation incorporated throughout. FERPA guidelines and the Academic Coach role are also covered.  


 To ensure that an Academic Coach can get access to the course, follow these simple instructions:

  •  The department should send a request to with the names and N#s of individuals who will serve as coaches. 
  • Indicate in the body of the email that you are requesting enrollment in the Canvas Orientation for Academic Coaches course.
  • If you have any specifics questions about the course, please contact Taylor Kennedy in CIRT. 


Resources for Faculty

It is recommended that instructors who will be using an Academic Coach schedule an appointment with an Instructional Designer to discuss best practices for using a coach in an  online course. The instructional designer can help the instructor develop a Course Facilitation Plan to guide their work with the academic coach. 


Role of the Academic Coach (AC)

For Instructors

 The role of the AC is to assist the course instructor with the facilitation of the course, which can include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Communicating with the instructor on a weekly basis, or more frequently as needed
  • Grading assignments, assessments, and discussions
  • Participating in asynchronous and synchronous discussions
  • Documenting student comments, questions, and concerns that are raised to the AC

For Students

The role of the AC is to assist the course instructor with the facilitation of the course, which includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Maintaining a safe, comfortable online learning environment.
  • Sending out weekly and sometimes daily announcements as needed to keep you informed about upcoming assignments or changes to the course.
  • Assisting you with technical and content related questions. If you have technical issues or questions about course content or policies, you are encouraged to post to the appropriate discussion forum where the AC will reply within 24 hours.
More information about the roles the AC can assume, for either instructors or students, can be found in the Academic Coaches Information Sheet.